Community Action Head Start Self Assessment Final Report and Program Improvement Plan

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1 Community Action Head Start Self Assessment Final Report and Program Improvement Plan The annual self assessment took place in March 2012 with the participation of program staff, parents, community partners, Policy Council and Board of Directors. A file review was conducted on 10% of the child files, along with a verification of income eligibility. Each classroom was visited by a staff member and a parent, and the sites were observed for appropriate learning opportunities and health and safety. Mealtime observations were conducted in each classroom to observe for compliance with USDA rules and program policies and procedures. Each school bus was observed for compliance with transportation rules and regulations, as well as program policies and procedures. Staff, parents and community partners were surveyed, with 52% of parents in the program completing a survey by telephone. Focus groups were conducted with the Policy Council and the MWVCAA Board of Directors. Fiscal and Human Resources Questionnaires were completed by appropriate agency staff from those departments. An assessment of program performance in the areas of Child Outcomes and CLASS Assessment scores was completed by the Education Specialist. Following is a summary of the strengths identified in the program, as well as areas of concern requiring action in the form of a program improvement plan. Strengths Follow Up to Concerns on Developmental and Social Emotional Screenings: Each child has two screenings completed, the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), which is a developmental screening, and the Ages and Stages Social Emotional Questionnaire (ASQ-SE), which is a social emotional screening. These screenings are scored and offer parents the opportunity to bring up concerns about their child s development. Head Start is then responsible to follow up on these children, making referrals, providing resources, or just discussing the concerns with the parent, whatever is appropriate. For many years our systems for ensuring that this follow up and documentation of it is completed has not been successful. This year a new system was developed jointly by Mental Health and Disabilities staff to document the need for follow up, and monitoring to ensure completion of the follow up. In the child file review of 10% of child files, every child who required follow up to their ASQ and/or ASQ-SE was found to have received the follow up and it was documented appropriately. This is a total turnaround where the development of a new system was 100% successful. It is further substantiated that in an on line survey, 75% of the staff rate both the disability and mental health services areas as good, very good or excellent. 1

2 Family Services Resource & Referrals: Family Educators provide resources and referrals to parents based on needs the parents express through completion of a Family Interest Survey, the Family Partnership Agreement, and at other times as needs emerge. A review of child files showed these resources are being offered to all families except those who state that none are needed. Parents enthusiastically confirmed this during the parent telephone survey. 77% of parents stated that they received requested resources, while 22% said that they didn t have the need for any. For the last two years the follow up required to ensure that parents are getting resources that met their needs has been a concern in the self assessment. It is noteworthy that this year it is a strength, with 89% of the files reviewed showing completion of timely and appropriate follow up. This is further substantiated by the results of the staff survey, in which 84% of the staff rated the Family Services component good, very good or excellent. Home Visits and Conferences: Teachers and Family Educators are required to complete a series of meetings with Head Start parents. Teachers do two home visits and two parentteacher conferences each year per family. Family Educators do a minimum of two home visits each year per family, with a required minimum of three contact hours per family per year. This year the conferences were scheduled on two specific days per season, with in service days taking place to allow Teachers enough time to meet with each family at school, rather than trying to schedule them before or after class during a series of weeks. For each required type of visit, Teacher home visit, Parent-Teacher conference, and Family Educator home visit, the program showed greater than a 95% completion rate. Events were timely and contact hour requirements were met. Classroom Materials and Learning Opportunities: During site observations staff and parents used a comprehensive checklist to determine if there were adequate opportunities for children to learn. 30 different topics were covered including activities, materials available, and teacher interactions and strategies. Classrooms across the program rated exceptionally high in this area, with most having a score of 100% by having all 30 areas observed to be in place. Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS): The program is completed its second year using this strategy to address the behavior of children in the classrooms. In their survey staff speak very highly of PBIS and the style in which they have been taught to use it. In the parent survey it came up quite a lot as well, even though we didn t ask a question about it. Parents state that they have received support and materials to use at home that help with their children s behavior issues. One foundational step in PBIS is implementing and teaching all the children a short set of classroom norms or rules that we call the Three B s (Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible). 65% of the parents who completed the survey listed social skills, responsibility, self control, respect, making friends, and 26 parents even specifically named the Three B s as some of the things their child is learning in school. 2

3 Recruitment: The program is responsible to recruit children and families from throughout the service area with efforts to locate the children with the greatest need. This is done through a process that includes mailing letters to recipients of TANF, participation in events, door to door recruitment where necessary, and referrals from community partners. Parents were asked in their survey how they heard about Head Start. Again this year 51% said through word of mouth, which has always been the case. 18% of the parents were referred, and they provided a list of community partners that made these referrals. There was a great variety listed including public schools, Willamette Education Service District, DHS caseworkers, Family Building Blocks, Salem Housing Authority, Teen Parent Program, ARCHES day shelter, Sable House, County Health Departments, Chemeketa Community College, other Head Start programs and several health care providers. It is a great strength that our program has solid relationships with many other organizations in our communities and that we provide recruitment flyers to them so that they can send eligible families to us. Physical & Dental Exam Completion: The rate of children receiving a physical and dental exam within 90 days of their enrollment has been very good for the third consecutive year. Of the 92 child files reviewed, 74 had a timely physical exam, 8 had a physical exam that was done after the 90 day deadline, and 2 had a physical exam prior to the 90 days that had expired at the time of the review. 83 of the 92 children reviewed had a timely dental exam and 2 had a dental exam prior to the 90 days that had expired at the time of the review. This is substantiated by reports from the ChildPlus database, showing a 90% completion rate for physical exams, and a 95% completion rate for dental exams. In the parent survey, 95% reported that they had no problems obtaining these required examinations. Income Eligibility: During the child file review, 10% of the enrolled children s files were reviewed to determine if the income eligibility determination for the child was done accurately. In 100% of the files reviewed, the reviewer substantiated the information completed on the Income Verification Worksheet, which was signed by the person who made the determination. All required proof of income was on file. Transportation: All bus drivers had an observation completed of a bus ride to ensure compliance with rules, regulations and procedures. Safety, route times, monitors on the bus, appropriate routes and bus stops were carefully reviewed. Additionally our buses are an extension of the classroom, so the atmosphere and environment on the bus was observed with an eye to communication between staff, parents and children, appropriate methods of child guidance, and timely predictable transitions. The transportation component has long been a strength in our program and again this year was found to be in compliance with all requirements. 3

4 Meal Service: An observer went to each classroom to see children eating a meal. A checklist was completed to ensure USDA and program requirements and procedures were met. With very minor variations, meal service in each classroom was done in a manner consistent with all requirements. Sanitation and health procedures were done consistently; family style meal service was done correctly, with good table manners and positive conversation done at all classrooms observed. The food was reviewed as having a variety of colors, texture, and flavor. Children were learning to use forks and spoons. Some classrooms had children involved in setting the table or in clean-up after meals. Concerns and Plans for Improvement Documentation of Child Observations: Teachers are required to do observations on children four times per month, looking at a variety of domain areas including math, social emotional, gross motor, fine motor, and language. These observations are entered by the Teachers into a database called Teaching Strategies Gold. Quarterly the observations are printed out and shared with the parent, as well as being utilized in assessing the child s progress for outcomes reporting. During the child file review for the self assessment 24% of the files did not have documentation on file for child observations for one or more months. A significant number were missing a season (December, January, February) at the time of the file review in late March. Further research into the TS Gold database revealed that most of these children did have observations completed, but they were not present in the child file at the time of review. So this is a concern about staff following our own procedure with regard to the timelines for printing observations, or perhaps with keeping up with necessary filing, rather than a concern that children are not getting enough observations. Program Improvement Plan: The issue of children s files not having printed observations for checkpoint seasons will be remedied by adding observations to the list on the file review checklist as an item that the TRS will check when completing child file reviews. TRS s will be asked to check to see that child observations are printed from TS Gold and placed in the child file after each progress checkpoint season ends. The dates for the progress checkpoints will be listed on the file review checklist for the corresponding month that the TRS should check to see if the observations are present. 4

5 CLASS Assessment Scores: The CLASS observation tool is used to assess the Teacher s abilities and interactions with the children, and addresses three domain areas Emotional Support, Classroom Organization and Instructional Support. Done in the fall, winter and spring, the growth of the Teacher can be measured by tracking scores from season to season. While the program overall attained average scores in these areas that fall into the mid-range of expectations, there is concern with the scores in the domain of Instructional Support. The program average score for Instructional Support was in the lower end of the mid-range. There were also three classrooms whose scores in Instructional Support were below expectations. We interpret these lower scores to mean that Teachers need to be more intentional with curriculum implementation and daily interactions with children in providing opportunities for children to use their thinking and problem solving skills and find ways to provide an environment that is rich in both receptive and expressive language. Also contributing to the issue is the number of newly hired Teachers in the program this year. Because of the requirement for all Teachers to have an Associates or Bachelors degree in the fall of 2012, a number of staff were demoted to Teacher Assistant and replaced with new Teachers who, though qualified for the job, are mostly new to Head Start and have a whole new system to learn. Program Improvement Plan: As a program, we will continue to educate and train our teaching teams to develop skills in effectively creating opportunities for expanded knowledge and enriched language for children. Continued training and constructive feedback to teaching teams at the point of observation debrief will increase teacher s knowledge of the CLASS tool and contribute toward improved implementation of CLASS. Trainings specific to Instructional Support areas will be offered to all teaching staff in the school year. As CLASS observations indicate, targeted training will be conducted with individual teachers for continued growth and improvement. Consistent Staffing in Classrooms: Staff and parents have voiced concerns this year because the program has been short on teaching staff and substitutes. This has been partially caused by the ripple effect of the new Teacher education requirements this year. Eleven people who were Teachers last year were not qualified to continue as Teachers this year. Although we were able to get a waiver for a few of them to finish their AA degree, most were demoted and had to be replaced. Additionally the program received an expansion of 112 children, necessitating the hiring of additional new staff for new classrooms. It is always difficult to find qualified Teachers who want to work for a Head Start program when teaching positions in public schools and other pre-schools pay at a higher rate. 5

6 The program has recruited for Teachers, Sub Teachers and Sub Teacher Assistants consistently throughout the year, but the additional staff hired do not keep up with the need. Sub Assistants are utilized to cover absences or to supplement classes that have a number of children with dangerous behaviors and require a third adult present. Sub Teachers are all placed in long term assignments to cover for the significant number of staff who are out on maternity leave, medical leave or worker s compensation this year. Every available qualified staff person from the central office has frequently been sent out to sub in some capacity at the sites. While we are making sure we have the right number of legally qualified people in the classroom, the lack of a consistent Teacher to work with children affects the quality of our interactions and relationships with children and parents. Program Improvement Plan: The Human Resource Department will review our current methods of recruitment and research other effective recruitment methods focusing on education/social service careers. This may include participating in job fairs, establishing relationships with local colleges to recruit new graduates, and additional advertising online. To further support consistent staffing within the program we have created a Parent Intern position to provide additional parent volunteers in the classroom. Parents in this position will be required to volunteer a set number of hours in the classroom in addition to obtaining their Child Development Associate which will be paid for by the program. Upon receiving their CDA and volunteering in the classroom these individuals will be qualified to apply for the Teacher Assistant position. We will also continue to support current Teacher Assistants in obtaining their Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education to promote from within. Follow Up to Physical Exams, Dental Exams and Failed Screenings: When a child s doctor or dentist indicates on their exam that follow up or additional treatment is needed, the Family Educator is responsible to work with the family, checking to see if follow up has been received, or if they need assistance in obtaining it. In the child file review it was found that follow up to physical and dental exams was very low, at a 49% completion rate for physical exam follow up, and a 66% completion rate for dental exams. Head Start performs vision and hearing screenings on every enrolled child whose parent consents to the screening. When a child fails a screening it is repeated. Once a child has failed the same screening twice, follow up is required to ensure that the child sees a vision or hearing professional or receives other medical attention that resolves the concern. The Family Educator is responsible to work with the family, checking to see if follow up has been received, or if they need assistance in obtaining it. In the child file review it was found that only 20% of children with failed screenings had received follow up. Timely follow up requires timely screenings and accurate understandable reports. During the first year of implementation of ChildPlus procedures for entering and tracking data required numerous adjustments. A child 6

7 isn t deemed to have failed a screening until they have failed it twice. Rescreening of children who failed was not conducted in a timely manner therefore necessary follow up was not identifiable until February. Program Improvement Plan: To improve the follow up rate for physical, dental exams and health screenings: The Health Specialist will provide a more streamlined report (Report 3065) to Family Educators reflecting the children that need follow up only. The report will display health actions in order to identify the health concern requiring follow up and will be distributed monthly. Meet with the ChildPlus Data Analyst to establish a more comprehensive outline for training during Pre- Service to empower FEs on how to access and interpret data and reports in Child Plus. A Guidance sheet will be developed by the Health Specialist regarding what is considered adequate follow up for concerns identified on physical/dental exams and failed/refused screenings and how proof of follow up should be submitted so that it is entered into ChildPlus correctly. Additional training will be given regarding the use of the newly developed Health Screening Referral Sheet and the Vision/Hearing Screening Follow Up Form at Pre-Service. The Health Specialist will meet with Family Educators with high rates of follow up completion and have them help develop Pre-Service Training around effective methods of follow up completion. An additional Health Assistant will be hired prior to the beginning of next school year to enable Health Specialist more time for monitoring completion of follow up. With the addition of another Health Assistant, screenings will be completed more quickly, allowing FEs more time to pursue follow up. A Spreadsheet will be developed for incomplete physical exam follow up and maintained by Health Assistants. Additional training will be given regarding the use of the Unresolved Medical/Dental Treatment Form, so it is documented clearly when families are refusing follow up and barriers for families can be identified and resolved. Health and Safety Monitoring: Each month every classroom is monitored for health and safety using a Health and Safety Checklist. This is typically done by the Team Resource Specialist who supervises the site. Checklists are then posted on site and a copy sent to the Health Specialist. A similar checklist was used during the self assessment site visits. Although there is no one pervasive issue found across numerous sites, nor is there any site with numerous issues, there were issues found. 7

8 Classroom staff are responsible to meet these requirements every day, and the Team Resource Specialist is responsible for monthly monitoring and ensuring correction of all findings during monthly monitoring. A review of the health and safety checklists completed this year indicate that monitoring is occurring regularly, but the process for ensuring that correction has taken place is not reliable. Corrective actions needed are documented on the health and safety checklist and posted for staff to review. These corrective actions should have a staff name assigned to each action, and it should be re-visited by the TRS later to verify that it took place and record the date and initial. This did not occur with the majority of completed checklists this year. Corrections were identified and assigned to staff, but not any particular person, and although issues were corrected, documentation of follow up was missing. Program Improvement Plan: Staff at the classrooms will perform a mini health and safety check as part of their daily cleaning routine to check for basic safety so that the classroom is ready for children each morning. This will be introduced to staff at pre-service during first day regional training. The process for the TRS monthly monitoring will be revised so that the checklists are turned into the Program Manager, who will monitor to ensure that corrections needed are assigned and follow up is documented. At monthly region meetings there will be a standing item health and safety checklists where corrections needed will be reviewed and trained on if necessary to increase staff s understanding of these expectations. Approved by Policy Council: May 17, 2012 Approved by MWVCAA Board of Directors: May 17,

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